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  #1  
Old 07-24-2018, 04:56 PM
difalkner difalkner is offline
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Default 1st acoustic build - video added 2/8/23

Over the last 30 years or so I have replaced tops, backs, done fret jobs, inlay, glued braces and lining, refinished, made bridges, saddles, and nuts, replaced tuners, and all kinds of repairs, etc. but this is the first guitar I've built from scratch.

I cut all the wood for this including resawing the back/sides/top, cutting the binding and bracing from lumber or billets, etc. Along the way I've designed and built my own modular cantilever side bending fixture that will accommodate sizes from Jumbo down to 0, possibly smaller like a Ukulele. I'll post photos of the side bending fixture later and also built all the forms, fixtures, templates, and jigs for the build. I started the build a couple of years ago just working an hour in the evening, sometimes two, and some on weekends, but I put it aside and didn't touch it for about 8 months.

I'll tell you ahead of time that it sounds good, is bright, has great sustain, and plays very easily with good action. But it may be a while before I make a video of it being played.

Back and sides - Honduras Mahogany
Top and bracing - Sitka Spruce
Neck - African Mahogany with Maple and Honduras Mahogany center pieces
Headstock, rosette, arm bevel, heel cap, and tail wedge - Walnut burl
Headstock inlay - Zebrawood
Fingerboard, bridge - East Indian Rosewood
Binding, purfling - Zebrawood and Maple
Sound port lining - Macassar Ebony
Solid lining - Honduras Mahogany
Side braces - Honduras Mahogany
Finish - Shellac (French polish), measured just over 1 mil at the bridge

The neck is bolted on and I devised a way for it to be completely removable. It can go from tuned to pitch to neck off in about 5 minutes. In the week that the guitar has been tuned to pitch it is holding its tuning as good as my other guitars. The intonation still needs some minor tweaking but I'll play it a while before working on it again.

Assuming I like it enough to play in church I'll install a K&K Pure Mini pickup. If I decide to just play it at home and with friends I'll save the pickup for a future guitar.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of the build and some of the finished guitar.
Back bracing with Padauk glue strip -


Top bracing -


Gluing the back in place -


Finished guitar. I didn't want a super high gloss finish but rather decided to do an old world vintage patina. Nothing against the super high gloss finishes but I have 5 guitars with high gloss finish and wanted this one to be different. Now that I've done it this way I like it even better than I thought I would.













So feel free to comment, ask questions, critique. I have about 1,500 photos of the build and good documentation but these few photos tell the story just fine, I think, so I'll spare you the copious extras.

Enjoy!
David
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Last edited by difalkner; 02-09-2023 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 07-24-2018, 05:29 PM
Halcyon/Tinker Halcyon/Tinker is offline
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I'm curious why you chose to make the top braces flatsawn?
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Old 07-24-2018, 05:45 PM
RoyBoy RoyBoy is offline
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Default Bravo!

Gorgeous first build! And an arm bevel 1st time around, very ambitious. I notice the split saddle bridge, does this guitar see DADGAD tuning. Beautiful effort!
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Old 07-24-2018, 05:54 PM
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You do realize most of our second builds far outshine our first builds. Boy, have you got a high challenge coming up.
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Old 07-24-2018, 05:59 PM
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Good looking stuff David!
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Old 07-24-2018, 06:01 PM
difalkner difalkner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halcyon/Tinker View Post
I'm curious why you chose to make the top braces flatsawn?
You noticed that, huh? I knew a real builder would catch that but didn't think it would be the first reply - Haha!

I'd love to tell you that was a cognizant decision but I realized it after I had already cut them (first build... ugh!). However, I did a test with quartersawn bracing and they were actually stiffer so I left them that way, fwiw. Even took photos!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyBoy View Post
Gorgeous first build! And an arm bevel 1st time around, very ambitious. I notice the split saddle bridge, does this guitar see DADGAD tuning. Beautiful effort!
Thanks! No sir, rarely. I just wanted to do it that way. I have two other guitars like that and the intonation is good on both so I figured why not.

David
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Old 07-24-2018, 06:03 PM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
I'll tell you ahead of time that it sounds good, is bright, has great sustain, and plays very easily with good action. But it may be a while before I make a video of it being played.
David
Hello David,
Your first build looks fantastic. I'll take your word for the tone and sustain of this guitar because, clearly, this build was a labour of love. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old 07-24-2018, 06:05 PM
difalkner difalkner is offline
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Originally Posted by printer2 View Post
You do realize most of our second builds far outshine our first builds. Boy, have you got a high challenge coming up.
Thanks, Fred! Yes, I sort of did it backward. My second build is plain Jane - no cutaway, no sound port, no arm bevel, no fingerboard or headstock binding. It's probably what I should have started with but that would have been too easy, right?

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Originally Posted by nacluth View Post
Good looking stuff David!
Thanks, Ryan! You'll see it soon. I told Steve I'm going to head over in the next few weeks and visit with y'all. Maybe some of the good vibes in your shop will rub off on it.

David
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Old 07-24-2018, 09:00 PM
Halcyon/Tinker Halcyon/Tinker is offline
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I'd love to tell you that was a cognizant decision but I realized it after I had already cut them (first build... ugh!). However, I did a test with quartersawn bracing and they were actually stiffer so I left them that way, fwiw. Even took photos!

Generally I think it's accepted that there's not a lot of difference stiffness wise between flat and quarter sawn, as long as it one way or the other and not somewhere in between.

But vertical grain is way easier to hack at with edged weapons, particularly with scalloped bracing as you have there.

But hey, next time...

Nice finish btw...
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  #10  
Old 07-25-2018, 06:52 PM
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Steve Kinnaird Steve Kinnaird is offline
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It does look good, David. I read somewhere...or perhaps was told by someone...that the old lute makers oriented their top bracing as you did there because of increased stiffness. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, so it is quite interesting to see your top. I look forward to hearing that beauty.

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Old 02-08-2023, 05:55 PM
difalkner difalkner is offline
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I was going back through the stills and handful of videos from my first acoustic guitar build that is now about 5 years ago; doesn't seem like it's been that long. Anyway, I made a short video, less than 3 minutes, and thought I'd share it here. This is mostly about French polishing the top but there are some other photos, as well.
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Old 02-08-2023, 06:33 PM
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Ambitious first guitar, my friend, and well done. As one who has played it, I can attest that it not only looks great, it plays and sounds great as well. Can’t wait to see #2.
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2023, 08:53 PM
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Smile Wow

My goodness, what a spiffy instrument.

Way to go!

Very impressive!!!

Cheers

Paul
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Old 02-08-2023, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halcyon/Tinker View Post
I'm curious why you chose to make the top braces flatsawn?
Like my brother said, the old, and some new I might add, lute makers used flat sawn braces. I have done some informal testing and sure enough, the flat sawn braces win the stiffness test every time. They are harder to carve than the well quartered braces. This shows the pervasive hold that guitar myths can have over data from tested results. So your flat sawn braces are probably superior.
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  #15  
Old 02-09-2023, 07:15 AM
difalkner difalkner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bebo View Post
Ambitious first guitar, my friend, and well done. As one who has played it, I can attest that it not only looks great, it plays and sounds great as well. Can’t wait to see #2.
Thanks so much, Bebo! And I can't wait to get on to #2 - ought to be fun!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
My goodness, what a spiffy instrument.

Way to go!

Very impressive!!!

Cheers

Paul
Thanks, Paul! Glad you like it and thanks for checking this out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j. Kinnaird View Post
Like my brother said, the old, and some new I might add, lute makers used flat sawn braces. I have done some informal testing and sure enough, the flat sawn braces win the stiffness test every time. They are harder to carve than the well quartered braces. This shows the pervasive hold that guitar myths can have over data from tested results. So your flat sawn braces are probably superior.
Thanks, John! It is interesting how we follow 'conventional wisdom' so often. In the five years since the guitar has been completed I don't see evidence of anything moving, bowing, or twisting so I guess it's going to be ok.

Btw, Bebo and I took the guitar to Nacogdoches in a visit with Steve and Ryan and they both liked it, so that's a good thing!
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